Around the Bowl

Soups of the world – Recipes from around the globe & some creations of my own


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Fideuà – The Lesser-known Mediterranean Classic

Honestly, I hadn’t heard from fideuà until I came to live in Catalonia, where I first had it and instantly loved it!  Fideuà is a sort of paella’s cousin but made with noodles instead of rice.  As it happens with paella, there are endless recipes and variants and it’s also original from Valencia, but eaten all along the Spanish Mediterranean coast and definitely a Sunday and festive staple dish in Catalonia.

You’ll find vegetable, meat, chicken fideuà, but the most traditional is the seafood fideuà. Besides the seafood, the famous “fumet” (fish stock) and noodles are the basic ingredients. In Spain you can find fideuà noodles in any supermarket, but any short thin kind of hard wheat noodle will do the trick.  In the image bellow you’ll find the two most common kind of fideuà noodles. I prefer the thinner ones.

Here it is my humble approach to Fideuà, hope you enjoy it!
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#InstaFood Post – The Ultimate Gourmet Burger

Yes, I’m the kind of person that likes to instagram every delicious piece of  food that I take to my mouth, both home-made or restaurant’s. #Instafood and #FoodPorn are my sort of hashtags.

If it’s a complete recipe (that we first loved at home), it generally makes it to a post, but if it’s something very simple I put together quickly and had turned out great, it makes just a good Instagram material.

However, today, after instagraming the most delicious gourmet burger we have had in ages, I thought it was worth sharing it! Although all we’ve done was drive to the supermarket to buy the ingredients, the cooking involved was minimal, the result was so amazing that I had to share this magical combination with whoever gets to read this blog!

Most of the recipe is actually summarised in the Instagram post, but if you want more details on the ingredients and the making, keep reading!

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Spaghetti alle Vongole – Spaghetti with Clams

I can’t wait for the soup season (I mean, autumn) to start! But there are still a few weeks of summer left where I live and although I’m anxious to start wearing jackets, boots and to throw a duvet over my sheets I’m trying to fully enjoy these last warm days. And I certainly do, with the same anticipation I start  savouring a trip when preparing it!

Last weekend while shopping for groceries, we decided we wanted pasta for dinner (I know, carbs for supper! who does that nowadays? well… we do sometimes… uppsss) and in a sudden inspiration strike I remembered I had frozen clams and Spaghetti alle Vongole immediately came to my mind!

Like many others of Italian pasta dishes the sauce is actually simple both by its preparation and number of ingredients but the flavour resulting by its combination is supreme! And this was indeed the case, we loved them!

I added my own twist by changing the fresh parsley traditionally used in this recipe by fresh basil; mainly because there was no parsley left at the supermarket and I had a pair of basil plants thriving on my balcony.

I encourage you to try it, this is one of those easy but success-guaranteed recipes that I use either when entertaining or just to indulge myself with something extremely yummy but not decadent.

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Moroccan Bruschetta with Basil and Goat Cheese

I know, I know Bruschetta is Italian, so why Moroccan Bruschetta? Well because I made this one with Moroccan bread. Moroccan bread is a flat circular loaf of white bread, with a golden crust on the outside and a yellowish fluffy interior, it is delicious, I love it! I think part of its secret lies in the semolina on its composition making its flavour quite unique. There’s a local shop near my house that sells it fresh every day, so I usually keep a loaf on my fridge for many uses: breakfasts, meals, it even serves as a base for pizza (opened into two halves)!

A couple of weekends ago, we were on lazy mode and haven’t planned anything for lunch, so we simply took two slices of this wonderful bread and decided to turn them into fabulous Bruschettas, with a little help from the basil plants I grow on my balcony, that I’m today sharing with you!

It is simple, quick, delicious and frugal. Ideal for a summer (vegetarian) lunch or a great appetiser all year round! Leave the cheese out of the equation and you’ll have a perfect vegan snack!

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Piperrada/Piperade – A Basque Country Pepper Stir Fry

I recently discovered today’s recipe in the short trip we took to the Basque Country with my parents while they were here on holidays. We visited some locations both in the Spanish and the French sides and Piperrada (or Piperade in French) is cooked all over. It is basically a pepper and tomatoes stir fry, from the family of Spanish Pisto, Catalan Samfaina and French Ratatouille but with peppers as the base vegetable.

In spite of how wonderful and delicious Mediterranean cuisine is, is fair to point out that some of the best food of Spain is produced and created in the Basque Country within the less known but also fabulous Atlantic Diet. In fact, along with Catalonia, Basque Country concentrates the majority of chefs and restaurants holding Michelin stars. But there’s no need to visit a Michelin star restaurant to eat delicious food, it is served everywhere, and we indeed enjoy it!

Once in the French side, we re-visited a little restaurant in Bayonne in which we had eaten really well the first time: Auberge du Petite Bayonne; everything was certainly as good as we recall. If you happen to go, just remember to make a reservation because it is usually crowded, since not only the food, but the prices are very attractive and the staff is very friendly!

I took some pictures of the menu we had consisting of: Squid cassolette and Piperade (today’s recipe) with eggs and Bayonne ham (designation of origin, totally worth trying) as an entrée; lamb txilindrón (tomato and pepper sauce typical from Basque Country) and duck tournedos with mushroom sauce (yummy!) as a main dish. Finally, we had the marquise au chocolat as a dessert that was to die for! There is also a picture of how great an ordinary breakfast can be in a French cafeteria (that is, of course, if you enjoy croissants and bread with salted butter!).

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Piperrada

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • a dash of olive oil
  • 1 onion, finally chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, pressed
  • 1 red pepper cut into strips
  • 1 green pepper cut into strips
  • 1 tin of whole tomatoes + their juice, cubed (of course you can use fresh peeled tomatoes!)
  • salt and white pepper to taste
  • 2 eggs (skip these for a vegan option)

Preparation

  1. Heat the oil in a frying pan and sauté over medium heat the onion and the garlic until translucent.
  2. Add the peppers and stir fry for some minutes
  3. Stir in the tomatoes, season with salt and pepper and simmer till the peppers have soften and the juice reduced.
  4. Break the eggs into the pan and stir until they have curdled.
  5. Serve immediately and enjoy!


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A Summer Celebration – Scones with Sobrasada and Brie cheese

My parents are on holidays visiting from Argentina and last week  it was my father’s birthday so I decided to prepare a little celebration. Instead of cooking a traditional courses meal I prepared a variety of dishes for a relaxed and fresh summer dinner. My choices were easy to make and some of them can be cooked in advance, so there’s no need to slave oneself in order to offer a “birthday banquet”. Here’s what I cooked:

  • Spinach and Goat Cheese Quiche (already posted here)
  • Cheese; Sausage and Dried Fruit Platter: the cheeses were a French cow’s milk Saint Paulin and a Spanish goat’s semi-cured cheese; the sausages were two kind of Secallonas, a Catalonian typical dry sausage and the dried fruits were figs, pistachios and cashews
  • Pulpo (octopus) a la Gallega
  • Scones with Sobrasada and Brie Cheese (today’s recipe)
  • Dates with Bacon Brochettes (no need for extended recipe, just wrap deseeded dates with smoked bacon slices and put them into a brochette stick, grill them in the oven until the bacon is crispy and they’re ready to go!)
  • Tabbouleh
  • Hummus + Warm Pita Bread
  • Pa amb tomàquet (Catalonian bread with tomato): spread half a mature tomato while lightly squeezing it over a slice of home-made stile bread (it can be toasted), then add a little salt, sometimes I skip this since I’ll be eating it with already very salty stuff, and finally pour some olive oil on top. If you feel like you’re wasting a lot of tomatoes by doing this, you can use grated tomato instead.
  • Bordeaux Wine

The scones snacks I’m publishing today are a creation of “Mr. Soup Taster”. I’ve always loved scones, the traditional English tea time treat, but no one seems to know them in Spain. Therefore, one day I was preparing them for a brunch with friends so they could try them when he came out with this idea of filling them with sobrasada and cheese. Sobrasada (or sobrassada in Catalán) is a Mallorquín (Balearic Islands) sausage with a strong pimentón accent and a pâté texture. I think its strong flavour pairs very well with the softness of the Brie cheese and the slight sweetness and creaminess of the scones dough. If you can’t find Sobrasada, which I imagine might be the case outside Spain, I think any pâté would work wonderfully; the idea is to transform the traditional scones into a savoury and surprising snack!

The Scones recipe is from BBC foods, and it never fails me!

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Pesto alla Genovese – A Legendary Italian Sauce

I’ve always loved pesto, but I didn’t use to make it at home. I usually ate it at restaurants or (I confess) used jar bought pesto. Although I was totally aware of what I was missing, I don’t know why, I never decided to prepare it at home. That was until a few weeks ago, when I saw a beautiful fragrant bunch of basil at the supermarket and have a pesto epiphany!

I did some research and having no family or friends secrets and tricks, I followed the official recipe approved by the Consorzio del Pesto Genovese (Genovese Pesto Consortium) to begin with. The homemade version turned out to be one of those things in life that once you’ve tried it, you’ll never be able to settle for anything less.

This sauce is so healthy, fresh, fragrant, simple and yet delicious that I’ll keep preparing it and further experiment with it for sure. It’s also very versatile: it can be served with pasta, vegetables, meats and anything else you can imagine.

Apart from the good quality supplies, the key to this recipe is the use of a mortar and pestle. Pesto has to be prepared using these utensils, since a blender will heat the mixture, ruining it. The ideal would be to use a marble mortar with a wooden pestle. I don’t have a marble mortar, but as in any other Catalonian household, I do have a ceramic mortar with its wooden pestle to prepare all-i-oli (Catalonian garlic and olive oil sauce), which I don’t, but inherited the utensils nevertheless.

And… if you happen to be angry or frustrated  about any issue, using the mortar and pestle is a great, cheap and harmless therapy, so prepare your wrist and let’s begin!

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Chicken and Artichokes Paella

At last, a Spanish recipe! It was about time I publish one; a while ago a dear friend of mine that took a look at the blog told me precisely that, not a single Spanish recipe! I know, I know, Spanish cuisine is sooo good that is unbelievable that it took me this long, but here we are and with nothing less than a paella!

Paella refers both the dish and the pan where it is cooked (the same case as tagine). Since paella is usually prepared for family and friends gatherings, the pan is very shallow but big in diameter and it has two handles. As an example, a great seafood paella a good friend of mine invited me in Gandía (Valencia) during one of my first years in Spain.

The dish is original from Valencia, although is cooked all across the country and beyond, I think is one of the most international Spanish dishes. The most popular one is probably the seafood paella, however, some purists claim that the real one is the chicken and rabbit paella, with vegetables from the legendary Valencia vegetable patches (l’horta Valenciana).

The thing is that there are as many variants and recipes of paella as region and families in Spain. Each one has its own way of preparing it, little secrets, tricks and rituals around it.

Before getting into the recipe I like to share some important tricks I’ve collected from all my Spanish friends:

  1. Always have a very good quality stock ready (an excellent fish stock for the seafood paella is mandatory) and keep extra stock warm in case you need to add more during the cooking
  2. The rice used for paella is a round, short-grain and high-starch variety called “bomba”  if you can’t find it, Arborio makes a good substitute.
  3. Once you have added the rice and the stock to the pan, the rice should no longer be stirred or mixed throughout the rest of the cooking process.
  4. Because of the latter, the heat has to get uniformly to the full pan base, otherwise the rice in the centre will be overcooked by the time the rice on the sides is done. Use a pan that matches exactly one of your stove burners.
  5. The rice stuck at the bottom of the pan is called “socarrat” and it is supposed to be this way, many people (including myself) like to scratch it and eat it at the end of the meal!

 

Today I’m sharing a very unorthodox chicken and artichokes paella that turned out delicious! As I don’t have a paella, I used a regular frying pan. Take into account that paella is more about the method of cooking the rice than about the ingredients themselves. Once you have mastered it, you can be as creative as you want!

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Non-Soup post – Spinach and Goat Cheese Whole-Wheat Quiche

I know this recipe has nothing to do with soup, but I was cooking it the other day for lunch and being one of my “specialities “I felt like sharing it with you as well.

A quiche is a great option to take to gatherings and to cook when entertaining at home; I’ve been cooking this for years, but when I first served it for a birthday brunch some years ago everybody liked it so much that I started doing it for this sort of events since then too.

There are two phases in its making: the pastry crust and the filling. As for the pastry you could also use a bought one when in a hurry and as for the filling it can be whatever you wish, I usually cook this one along with a quiche Lorraine. However, when it comes to the pastry crust, I hardly recommend to try the home-made, you’ll see how easy it is to make and how much healthier, the bought ones usually contain high percentages of hydrogenated fat (the worst kind).

Quiches are big in Argentina, my home country, they are part of everyday menus in most families and restaurants; in fact, my grannie Dina (my mum’s mum) used to cook a ham&cheese one very often that the whole family loved and she was the one who taught me the pastry dough that I’ve been using for around 20 years already. I have no idea where or from whom she got the recipe, and of course, there is no need to say that although I like my results, I could never make it taste exactly like hers.

In today’s version  I used whole-wheat flour  instead of white for the pastry, but you can easily switch them using the same measurements. I created the filling using a classic spinach filling formula with a French inspiration twist. Shall we try it?

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